The Bears (13-2, 3-1 AMC) shot only 34.3 percent from the field but it was more than they needed to defeat Urbana (4-9, 0-4 AMC) 55-32 Tuesday night at home.
The first half was the ugliest offensive performance SSU has turned in all season. Shawnee State shot 27 percent from the field in the first half and seemed to get no help from its bench. With 13:50 left in the first, SSU took all five starters out of the game leading to a two-minute stretch where neither team scored.
“I told them at halftime if we didn't put some more points on the board we're not going to get any fans back the next game,” said SSU coach Robin Hagen-Smith. “That's the worst shooting night we've had all season.”
Defensively, the Bears were flawless, holding Urbana scoreless over the first 11 minutes of the game. Poor offense however, amounted to only a 9-0 lead.
The Blue Knights combo of Sam Riley and Brittany Runner had been averaging nearly 30 points per game but were held to a combined eight by SSU.
“(Shawnee) knows our personnel. They know where we have to score and they just did an outstanding job of defending that tonight,” said Urbana coach Rob Phillips. “Although we had people open, those individuals at this point are not capable of taking advantage of it.”
SSU led 21-8 as the first half ended. The teams combined shooting percentage for both teams in the first 20 minutes - 19 percent.
If the Bears couldn't find the basket in the first half, they couldn't be kept from it early in the second. SSU opened the second half with a 17-2 run sparked by Shannon Leasure. Leasure scored all eight of her points over the run. Senior Shannon Thomas also made her presence felt for the Bears on the same run as she scored all six of her second half points. Thomas finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, and one block.
“(Thomas) only played 27 minutes but she was the one we really needed to keep on the court,” said Hagen-Smith. “But she got into foul trouble.”
Down by 30, Urbana tried to make a run of its own. With under 13 minutes remaining, Riley made a free throw to start a 5-0 run for the Blue Knights. A layup by Alexandria Noble and a pair of free throws by Faith Ligon completed the run. Having to score with players other than Riley and Runner, Urbana found itself in unfamiliar territory.
The Shawnee State men (5-11, 1-3 AMC) needed a win to gain ground on some of teams above them in the AMC South Division, but ran into an Urbana squad that simply refused to lose as SSU lost 66-61.
The Blue Knights needed every bit of gallantry to slay the Bears in a game that saw each team blow a substantial lead. Urbana's trio of Antonio Davis, Robert Harris, and surprise contributor Donald Suel all scored in double figures.
At one point in the second half Shawnee State maintained an 18-point lead over Urbana. Undeterred, the Blue Knights began to find their stroke from the 3-point line to get back in the game. Point guard Joe Williams and shooting guard Harris combined for three 3s during a 23-1 run that gave Urbana a 43-40 lead late in the half.
“These guys stepped up and took big shots and knocked them down. My point guard Joe Williams is a great shooter but he won't shoot it until I say ‘Joe shoot it,'” said Urbana coach Paul Bryant. “Tonight he really did step up and knock down those shots.”
Urbana stretched its lead to eight before SSU went on a run of its own. Down 50-42, the Bears would outscore the Blue Knights 15-7 at the end of regulation.
The game nearly fell to the Bears when Terrence Davison missed a 3 from the right side but SSU's putback was ruled no good at the buzzer. Davison finished with 20 points.
Overtime belonged solely to Antonio Davis, who scored five of his 18 in the extra period.
Though the loss drops the Bears to eighth in the AMC South, there was a silver lining. Needing a legitimate No. 2 scorer to take pressure of Davison, SSU found one in Bryan Robinson. Robinson scored 20 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and blocked two shots in one of his best all-around performances, impressing Bryant.
“This kid can play. I watched him on tape,” said Bryant. “He proved it tonight. He's a solid basketball player.”
With seven teams above them in the AMC, SSU coach Jeff Hamilton knows his team has work to do.
“You just got to go back to work,” he said. “One game isn't going to make or break your season at this point. You got to stay together. You win and lose together and that's something this team is going to have to fight through.”
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at email@example.com.
Blanchard 1-2 0-1 2, Ligon 3-10 2-2 10, Riley 2-8 1-2 5, Weisenbarger 1-4 0-0 2, Runner 0-2 3-5 3, Feldmeyer 1-4 0-2 2, Noble 1-1 0-0 2, Monroe 1-4 0-2 2, Hamilton 1-10 0-0 2, Curry 1-5 0-0. Totals 12-53 6-10 32.
Shawnee State (55)
Deal 1-3 1-2 4, Schilling 3-7 1-1 7, Thomas 6-13 1-2 13, Wagner 1-5 0-0 2, Walker 6-9 1-3 13, Ramey 1-3 0-0 2, Leasure 3-12 0-0 8, Babione 1-4 0-0 2, Diehl 2-7 0-0 4. Totals 24-70 4-8 55.
Halftime - Shawnee State 21, Urbana 8. Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Urbana 40 (Weisenbrager, Runner 6), Shawnee State 52 (Thomas, Wagner 8). Assists - Urbana 5 (Riley, Monroe 2), Shawnee State 14 (Wagner 5). Total fouls - Urbana 10, Shawnee State 15.
Cash 2-2 0-0 4, Williams 3-5 0-0 8, J. Davis 1-4 0-0 3, A. Davis 8-14 2-7 18, Harris 5-13 4-4 15, Suel 5-10 2-7 12, Wiggins 1-3 0-0 2, Comer 2-4 0-1 4. Totals 27-60 8-19 66.
Shawnee State (61)
Davison 7-18 3-6 20, Phillips 0-2 2-2 2, Younger 1-4 0-0 2, Robinson 6-14 8-8 20, Lough 2-8 0-0 5, Patrick 0-0 1-2 1, Mauk 2-4 0-0 5, Hall 2-4 0-0 4, Roberts 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 21-65 5-17 61.
Halftime - Shawnee State 30, Urbana 19. Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Urbana 36 (Suel 10), Shawnee State 51 (Robinson 16). Assists - Urbana 9 (Harris, Suel 3), Shawnee State 9 (Younger 5). Total fouls - Urbana 18, Shawnee State 20.